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Itchy scalp is a very common ailment that will affect most of us at some stage in our lives. It can be confusing, frustrating and embarrassing when you can’t stop but scratch that itch. Here’s the low-down of itchy scalp causes, prevention and treatment from our editorial team who have all suffered from it!

Itchy Scalp Causes

Itchy scalp can be caused by a wide variety of things ranging from allergies to dry scalp, sweat or medicine side effects.

Itchy Scalp Due To Allergies

Allergies is probably the first thing you should be looking at. Have you recently started using a new shampoo or haircare product? You could well be reacting to an ingredient in this new product. Stop using it for a couple of days and see if it improves. Common culprits include dry shampoo, or any haircare product that comes into direct contact with the scalp. Get your hair coloured or bleached? Products use to dye hair or bleach are pretty strong so you might be allergic to it. That’s also why hairdressers will do what’s called a patch test behind the ear to ensure you don’t react to anything. So it might be that your hairdresser has failed to do this, or you suddenly became sensitive to it.


Itchy Scalp Due To Dry Scalp

Dry scalp is another common cause for an itchy scalp. Dryness can be accompanied by dandruffs but not always. Sometimes it just manifests itself as an itch, scabs and hair loss. Scalp masks or oiling your scalp before going to sleep can help bring moisture and nourishment back. Finally, try out a scalp scrub or scalp massager to regularly help get rid of dead skin cells, oils and dirt on the scalp that could be irritating.

Aēsop Sage & Cedar Scalp Treatment | £25

Itchy Scalp Due To Sweat

Sweat is another irritant that could be causing your scalp to itch. Some of us will have more sweat glands in our scalp and generally tend to sweat more. Make sure you wash your hair after every sweaty workout. If you workout everyday and are concerned about damaging your hair, try using a very gentle sulfate free shampoo or even just rinsing your hair with conditioner. That way you will still clean out the sweat without stripping your hair everyday.


Itchy Scalp Due To Hair Dryer

Your hair dryer could be another culprit for your itchy scalp. If you find yourself drying your hair everyday or using the hottest setting, you could be drying out and even burning your scalp. Not ideal! Instead, try a microfiber towel and hair products especially formulated for air drying. And if that’s really not an option (we hear you!), try using your hair dryer on a cooler setting or investing in a Dyson hair dryer which is gentler on the scalp and hair.

Dyson Hair Dryer | from £329.99
Ouai Air Dry Foam | £24

Laundry Detergent

This is not a common culprit for scalp itchiness yet it might be worth looking into. Your pillow case could be causing your itchy scalp if you’re developing a reaction to your laundry detergent. If that’s the case, chances are you will notice irritation elsewhere on your body or face as well. Try switching between bio and non-bio laundry detergent or switching to a more natural detergent option to see if that makes a difference.

Arket Organic Delicate Detergent | £20

Picking Your Scalp

There’s something incredibly satisfying about picking at your scalp. Now as long as this is occasional, there’s no big reason for concern. But you should probably stop it when you’re catching yourself picking nonetheless.

If it’s more compulsive and you find yourself picking at your scalp until you bleed and scabs form, you might suffer from what’s called Dermatillomania. This disorder is often caused by anxiety and finds sufferers often picking at their skin such as pimples, cuticles, scalp or scabs. If that’s the case, the best way to avoid picking at your skin when stressed is to redirect your attention. Bubble wrap, fidget gadgets or stress balls can help.

Itchy Scalp Due To Lice

Now unfortunately we cannot talk about itchy scalp causes, prevention and treatment without mentioning the dreaded lice. Most of us have caught this at least once as a child (or adult) and remember the feeling of having the creepy crawlies going to town on our scalp. Most of us will also remember our parents freaking out and reaching for a shower cap and lice comb! Chances are if you have lice, you would know pretty quickly and might have been in touch with someone suffering from lice. A simple look at your scalp and chances are you would see the buggers and their eggs. If that’s the case, it’s time to go to the pharmacy and buy lice treatment asap! The longer you wait, the more they will proliferate and the harder to treat. Essential oils such as Rosemary or Lavender mixed in with olive oil or argan oil can really help suffocate lice too.


Dermatitis or Psoriasis

Dermatitis is often the cause for an itchy scalp. You might notice your scalp being really red, burning and breaking out in dry patches. Try to look for treatments especially designed for dermatitis and if that doesn’t bring relief, speak to your GP.

Psoriasis is another common skin condition which can affect the scalp and cause an itchy scalp. It manifest itself with dry, flaky white patches. Many treatments are available over the counter such as medicated shampoos. If that doesn’t cut it, you would need to again reach out to your GP for prescription strength treatments. Essential oils such as lavender mixed in with olive or argan oil for example can also bring some relief from the itching.


  • Violette Kraemer

    Violette is the co-founder of The Women’s Journal and Marketing Director with a penchant for editorial work particularly in Health & Wellness, Beauty and Fashion. She has nearly 10 years of Marketing & PR experience in industries varying from arts to fashion, events, weddings and beauty.

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